My Nailer Won’t Fire – Troubleshooting Common Causes of Jams and Misfires

My Nailer Won’t Fire - Troubleshooting Common Causes of Jams and Misfires

Pneumatic nailers are simple, reliable tools designed to drive hundreds of nails every day for years — which makes it all the more frustrating if yours stops working. If your nailer is jamming, or if nothing happens when you pull the trigger, there are several steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem. In most cases, it’s an easy fix that you can complete yourself. The following tips are also applicable to pneumatic staplers.

However, if troubleshooting fails, or you’re not comfortable diagnosing problems or disassembling your nailer, take it to a certified service center. To find a certified SENCO service center, visit our dealer locator. Search for your ZIP code, click “Filter Options,” and select “Authorized Warranty Service Center” and “Repair Center.”

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Clear Jams

Jams are typically caused when nails feed incorrectly and wedge against the driver blade, preventing the tool from cycling. Jams are the most common cause of a nailer not firing. Thankfully, they are often easy to clear.

For safety, first disconnect the tool from the air supply, retract the feeder mechanism, and remove any excess fasteners from the magazine. From there, clearing the jam depends on what type of nailer you have. Some tools require the magazine to be detached or opened, or require a special tool to access the nosepiece. Consult the user manual for your specific nailer.

Some SENCO nailers feature the EZ-Clear™ latch, which allows you to flip open the nose of the tool to clear jams in seconds. If you want to virtually eliminate downtime caused by jams, browse SENCO’s product catalog and look for “EZ-Clear” in the tool description.


Check Your Nails

Jams are commonly caused by loading nails that are the wrong length, gauge, angle or collation type for the magazine. This mistake is more frequent with beginners, but it can happen to experienced professionals as well, particularly if you have multiple types of fasteners and tools in the shop or on the job site. If your tool is jamming frequently, make sure you are using the correct fastener and collation type for your tool. If you have been using the wrong fasteners, clear the jam and switch to the correct nails.


Inspect Your Air Supply

If your tool is driving nails, but they’re not sinking fully, the tool likely isn’t getting enough air. Check your compressor, hose and fittings. Adjust your air pressure settings, and make sure your compressor is suitable for the type of tool you’re using. If the tank is too small, or if it doesn’t pull enough CFM, you will have trouble driving nails consistently with larger tools like framing nailers. Additionally, listen for any air escaping from the fittings. Apply thread sealant tape if needed.

Reload the Magazine

Check that there are fasteners in the magazine. Even if there are still a few fasteners left, some tools contain a lockout mechanism that prevents firing when the magazine gets low. This is to prevent dry firing, which causes strain on the internal components of the tool. Worse, dry firing can cause workmanship errors if users don’t realize they’re firing blanks. Reload the magazine and see if the tool resumes firing.


Clean the Tool

If the tool is firing, but nails aren’t feeding, inspect your magazine. Over time, especially on job sites with lots of dirt and sawdust, the magazine may become dirty and the feeder mechanism may stick. Check the operation of your magazine by removing fasteners and sliding the feeder shoe back and forth. If you detect an area where it “hangs up,” clean it with canned air or a nylon brush. Clean other moving parts, as well — such as the trigger assembly and the safety actuator on the nose piece.


Replace Seals and O-Rings

Over time, internal seals degrade, particularly if they aren’t lubricated regularly (or are over-lubricated if the tool is oilless). If the nailer won’t fire and there doesn’t seem to be a jam; if you hear the drive piston moving when you shake the tool; or if you hear a hissing coming from your tool’s exhaust vent or trigger, damaged seals are a likely culprit. Users who are comfortable disassembling the tool can order new seals and o-rings from their local dealer. Otherwise, an authorized service center can repair tools quickly and cost-effectively.


Inspect for Damage

If none of the above methods get your nailer firing again, thoroughly check the tool for damage, such as dents and dings in the magazine that might cause the feeder to get stuck. A common issue is a bent or broken feeder spring, caused by repeatedly allowing the feeder to snap forward when loading or unloading the magazine. Check your trigger assembly, hose fittings, nosepiece and any other parts and stop using the tool if you see any damage until you can get it repaired.


Take It to the Service Center

If these troubleshooting methods don’t identify the problem, or you don’t feel comfortable making repairs yourself, take your tool to a nearby service center or call the manufacturer’s customer service line. They can help you diagnose and repair so you can keep your tool operating smoothly for years to come.